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Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets makes an initial save on Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 16, 2015 in Anaheim, California.Harry How/Getty Images

Talk about pent-up demand.

By 3:00 p.m., they were filling up the tables at The Pint on Garry Street.

Down at the Shark Club, cameras were being set up to broadcast live the reaction of Winnipeg Jets fans to the team's first playoff game in 19 years.

Or, as CJOB radio station tweeted, "A Five-Thousand-Five-Hundred-Fifty-Five Day wait is about to end for fans of @NHLJets."

At 9:30 p.m. local time, it did finally end as the eighth-place Winnipeg Jets met the first-place Anaheim Ducks in California in the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the end, the powerful Ducks would prevail 4-2 in a come-from-behind performance, but it was a hard, physical game that simply promises more of the same before this opening round is decided.

To say they were excited back in Winnipeg would be the understatement of the decade. Even the Anglican Church closest to the team's home rink, the MTS Centre, had "Go Jets Go" on its announcement board, followed by the times of the coming Sunday services.

One fan launched a weather balloon with the team logo, perhaps in the belief that there are Jets fans in the space station. Winnipeggers Jeremy and Justine Welwood named their baby boy Jett. Jets tattoos – both permanent and temporary (shaved into the back of your head) – were the week's rage.

Amidst the darkest of stories – the teenage girl assaulted two weeks ago in the downtown core was taken off life support Wednesday, with a 15-year-old boy facing charges – the Jets making the playoffs has been as welcome as the departure of winter.

"It's an injection this city needed," says Jim Hewey, a senior decked out in Jets gear.

At Tavern United, a two-storey sports bar directly across from the MTS Centre, fans poured in by the dozens, hundreds, to press around the 17 television sets downstairs and another 11 upstairs. They wore their Jets jerseys, their caps. They carried cowbells and one fan even had whitener under his eyes, a hint of the t-shirt "Whiteout" to come Monday night when the Jets will play their first home playoff game in, uh, Five-Thousand-Five-Hundred-Fifty-Nine days.

They joined in on the Canadian anthem, rattling the rafters of the bar with a shouted "TRUE NORTH!" in honour of True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that brought the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg in 2011 and re-birthed them as the Jets.

"First time I've heard that!" laughed bartender Clifford Fewings.

"There's a real buzz here tonight."

In fact, there is a buzz all through the city, all through Manitoba and in many parts of the country that has embraced the spunky underdog Jets as a team worth cheering for.

And also worth groaning for. Less than two minutes in, Jets captain Andrew Ladd lost the puck along the boards, allowing the Ducks to pounce on the giveaway and Sami Vatanen to get a shot point past screened Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Less than two minutes later, however, Winnipeg's young Adam Lowry, tied the game at 1-1when he was able to re-direct a sharp Jacob Trouba pass into the Ducks net behind goaltender Frederik Andersen.

It was the first Winnipeg Jets playoff goal since Norm Maciver had scored in a losing cause against the Detroit Red Wings 19 years ago. When that series was over, the Jets relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, where they have struggled as much at the gate as on the ice ever since.

In the second period, the Jets went ahead – to a massive roar of approval from the pub crowds back home – when Drew Stafford, picked up in a mid-season deal with the Buffalo Sabres, came down on a three-on-two break, held and shot.

If the Anaheim crowd was live behind their Ducks, the distant Jets crowds around Winnipeg were wildly cheering their team at every scrum, every hit, every close call.

Early in the third period, however, the ice shifted significantly in Anaheim's direction. Corey Perry, the team's top scorer, scored early on when he redirected a puck during a Ducks' power play to tie the game and then, later in the period, it was Perry again in a goalmouth scramble to put the Ducks ahead 3-2.

Play continued for several minutes before the officials could review the play – and the goal was declared good.

All over Winnipeg, you could hear the groaning from the bars.

Pavelec had made the save by kicking out his pad, but the pad had been inside the crease and replays showed that the puck had crossed the line.

It was a tough night for Pavelec, who had been so pivotal in the Jets late drive to make the playoffs. During the warm-up, Ladd had stepped on a loose puck and fallen hard into Pavelec, dumping him hard around the centre ice line.

Pavelec, however, had shaken off the blow and played well.

With time running down, Ryan Getzlaf scored on a power play when his wrist shot from the right circle beat Pavelec. It marked Perry's fourth point of the night, with two assists to go with his pair of goals.

The Jets were obviously the underdogs going into the match, though Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had rather facetiously suggested it was the powerful Ducks looking up at the Jets, as an NHL Network computer poll had somehow came out 50.2 per cent for the Jets.

Not after this opening match.

The Winnipeg Jets are the undeniable underdogs.

And the Anaheim Ducks remain the team to beat in the West.